“Dihydrogen monoxide is coming out of your tap!”

A county official in Florida says two now-suspended radio DJs, Val St. John and Scott Fish, could face felony charges over an April Fool’s running gag in which they warned listeners that local tap water contained “dihydrogen monoxide,” another way of describing water. “My understanding is it is a felony to call in a false water quality issue,” said Lee County public information officer Diane Holm: “They will have to deal with the circumstances.” As for the suspension itself, “We take our FCC license very seriously,” said a VP of the broadcasting company. [WTSP] (& Patterico)


  • So, what was false about the report? (I guess they could have added that it also contained trace amounts of Chlorine).

  • Another failure of public schools. If only they had taught a class about such things in, oh say, the seventh grade. They could have called it science or some such.

    But when the inevitable class action lawsuits are settled it will prove once again that being dumb can be profitable, not much for the plaintiffs mind you, but still profitable. They will probably get a coupon for a free gallon of bottled water from Costco.

    Serves ’em right for listening to country music, don’t they know they should have been listening to Disney Radio. Now that’s the perfect music for the eleven year old mind.

  • It also show how easy it is to start “Smart Meters are Making Your Children Dumb” scares (though, unlike that one, the “Dihydrogen Monoxide” claims are usually accurate! Ever year in Florida alone, 350 children die from breathing it.)

  • Will these charges hold water?

  • I’d have to hear the broadcast to understand. If their statements were factual then truth is an absolute defense. If they were saying that you shouldn’t drink your tap water because it is poisonous, then that is not true and they might deserve a slap on the wrist. Still, sheesh, it seems like a minor issue to use a very old, very popular, widely known joke which is easily understood by anyone with literally a sixth-grade education *or* access to an internet search engine.

  • An excellent example of the rampant chemo-phobia in modern western societies.

    To all the chemo-phobes out there, please note the following.

    There is nothing inherently artificial about chemicals. Everything you can see, feel and smell. your body, every plant and every animal on the face of the earth, even the very air that surrounds you is in its entirety made up of chemicals.

    Grow up and get over it.

  • In the 1970s, local TV news carried an April Fool’s report that Blue Hill, an innocuous 600 foot hill 10 miles south of Boston, was having a spectacular volcanic eruption. Some people complained that they had been panicked and the two reporters responsible lost their jobs. I sympathized with the reporters; anyone with an elementary knowledge of geology would know the report was ridiculous, and anyone with doubt could simply open his door and look. But there has long been a strict standard that TV news is never to risk false panic even inadvertently (unless a member of the plaintiff’s bar stands to profit).

  • You see a similar ignorance of basic chemistry in campaigns against fluoridation of water. It is claimed that fluorine or some compound thereof is toxic, although these are not what is added to water, and without consideration of the fact that the same substance may be neutral or even beneficial in one concentration and toxic at a higher concentration.

  • I feel sorry for the citizens of the area. If saying that” dihydrogen monoxide” coming out of water taps constitutes a water quality “hoax”, the imbeciles in charge do not know the meaning of either. Hint: if it’s true it is not a hoax.

  • Proof that the only thing more stupid than the general public are government officials.

  • Since the constituents of “dihydrogen monoxide” are demonstrably hazardous (hydrogen in the case of the Hindenburg and oxygen in the case of the Apollo astronauts) then it is only reasonable that the combination of the two would be doubly hazardous. Right?

  • Good thing they didn’t reveal the real threat- hydrogen-hydroxide!

  • Matts,
    Your well stated rant made me think of this:

    ( I just realized that it is not normal to be able to recall 5 yr old comics on demand)

  • Blackfoot,

    That doesn’t even hint at the true dangers!